Manchester City defender Gael Clichy has said his side's lack of consistency cost them the chance to retain the Premier League title this season.
Neighbours Manchester United clinched a runaway success with victory against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Monday to reclaim the crown from Roberto Mancini's men, who are 16 points behind in second place.
"Against Manchester United and Chelsea, we got back to the Manchester City of last year," he said. "When we play like that, no one can cause us problems.
"If Manchester United won the title it's not because they're better than us, but because of their consistency.
"They won matches without playing well. We've dropped points stupidly. Overall, we've lacked thoroughness and the desire to hurt opponents."
Clichy said he was keen to win back his place in the national team from United rival Patrice Evra, who has made the left-back spot his own since Didier Deschamps succeeded Laurent Blanc as coach in the summer.
"I respect the coach's choice. Today there's a hierarchy, but I deserve my chance. I earned a starting role for Euro 2012 and, when Deschamps took over from Blanc, I expected a different scenario," he added.
"I don't get the impression I have had the opportunity to prove I'm No.1. If I hadn't deserved it, I would understand.
"I'm going to battle to get my place back. I've never had an easy time of things in the national team, but I've never given up."
Media speculation has linked Clichy with a return to club football in his native country, as well as moves elsewhere in Europe, but the Toulouse-born player has two years left on his City deal and wants to stay.
"I'm happy here. If the club come to talk to me, I'd like to extend my contract and stay here longer," he said.
"City are going to play a leading role for years to come. Playing at this club means I've achieved a certain level.
"I've gained in maturity and experience. I've become aware of what I can do, especially defensively. I've been able to stamp out the little errors that I used to make sometimes."